Shohei Ohtani set to pitch, but maybe not hit, vs. Red Sox

MLB Baseball

Shohei Ohtani will be on the mound Tuesday when the Los Angeles Angels host the Boston Red Sox in the second game of a three-game series in Anaheim, Calif., but it’s unlikely the two-way star will bat, too.

Ohtani was in the batting order in nine of his previous 12 starts on the mound this year, but Angels manager Joe Maddon typically leaving the decision up to Ohtani. However, Maddon may have to make the decision himself based on who the Angels will have available on the bench.

Both third baseman Anthony Rendon (tight left hamstring) and outfielder Taylor Ward (jammed right index finger) were not in the lineup Monday and are listed as day-to-day. Ward appeared as a pinch runner.

Without them, the Angels have a thin bench. Losing the designated hitter with Ohtani in the lineup would shorten the bench even further once Ohtani leaves the game, forcing Maddon to use pinch hitters in the pitcher’s spot.

“It’s going to be based on the bench,” Maddon said Monday before the Angels’ 5-4 loss to the Red Sox in the series opener. “Today, we only have a catcher on the bench, so that makes it really problematic. We’ll see how this plays out. It’s hard. It’s very difficult to do that with one guy on the bench.”

However, it seems Ohtani (3-1, 3.60 ERA) will get the chance to both hit and pitch in the All-Star Game on July 13 in Denver. Maddon spoke with American League manager Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays about the pitcher/slugger.

“The conclusion is that he will pitch, but how it’s going to happen has not been concluded,” Maddon said. “There’s different ways to do it, obviously. He could start the game or come in game-in-progress. And how often do you hit him? And don’t forget he’ll be in the Home Run Derby the day before.

“There’s a lot going on there, but Shohei is into it. It’s not like we’re trying to push him into doing anything. We’re just trying to figure out the best way to do it.”

Ohtani has made one career start against Boston. In 2018, he got the loss after giving up three runs in just two innings.

Boston right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (9-4, 3.41), selected to his first All-Star team on Sunday, will start Tuesday. He has been especially good at keeping the baseball in the ballpark, allowing just four home runs in 97 2/3 innings, a rate of 0.4 homers per nine innings, the best in the majors.

Eovaldi is 2-1 with a 4.58 ERA in nine career games (seven starts) against the Angels, but he has not beaten them since 2015. And while he certainly provides tough opposition for the Angels, the Red Sox hitters are looking forward to the challenge presented by Ohtani.

“Babe Ruth? I mean, it’s crazy to have a player with that much talent be able to do both things,” said slugger J.D. Martinez, one of five Boston players on the American League All-Star team.

“It’s kind of one of those things where I feel bad for Vladdy (Guerrero) Jr. in a way, because he’s having an unbelievable season this year and he’s kind of getting overshadowed by Ohtani. I mean, it’s just unreal.”

–Field Level Media

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